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Press Release



October 9, 2014


ACES students volunteer at FlatRock 50K trail race



Students in Cowley College’s Academic Civic Engagement through Service (ACES) organization gave their time to help with the FlatRock 50K and 25K races held Saturday, Sept. 27 at Elk City Lake in Independence, KS.

The trail races reached over 3,000 feet of cumulative elevation change throughout the run and is the oldest trail ultra-marathon in Kansas.

Ben Schears, Cowley College vice president for institutional advancement, took part in the 50K (32-mile) race for the third consecutive year. Schears’ involvement in running the race led to a friendship with Epic Ultras founder Eric Steele, whose race company set up the race and other ultra-marathons around the state.

During a conversation about a year ago, after one of the races, Steele had been talking to Schears about a need for volunteers at Epic Ultra events. The opportunity seemed a perfect fit for students in the ACES program to earn service hours.

“It was a win-win because Epic Ultras was looking for volunteers and the ACES program is full of kids that have a desire to volunteer and need service hours for their scholarship,” Schears said. “I am excited about ACES participation and hope it develops into something that lasts for years.”

The students helped set up the race, feed race participants the night before the event, and work the aid stations. The students also gathered near the finish line to cheer on the runners and helped serve chili after the race.

“They did a great job and did everything we asked of them,” Steele said. “I think most of them had a really good time and we hope to collaborate on future events.”

In appreciation of the students’ efforts, Epic Ultras made a $500 contribution to the ACES organization through the Cowley College Endowment Association to help support the students’ work throughout the course of the year.  The contribution will go to support the ACES food packaging project, which last year purchased and then packaged over 20,000 meals for local food banks and ministries across the area.

Steele said his company has donated close to $7,000 to charitable organizations over the past two years.

ACES students helping with the event were, Tori Mann, Lacy Craig, Emily Crane, Bridget Fox, Emma Gerber, Rebecca Hinnenkamp, Jazmin Lara, Aspen Sanders, and David Wallace. ACES sponsor James Fry also assisted with the event as did his wife, Deb. 

“It was a great time and we were treated like royalty, tons of runners came up to us and thanked us for working the aid stations along the race trails,” Fry said. “I look forward to being involved in many more of these Epic Ultras events.”

The next Epic Ultra race they have planned is the 50K Prairie Spirit Trail Fall Classic Oct. 25 in Ottawa, KS and the Cowley ACES students will be back out on the trails assisting and cheering on the runners.

Coming in October 2015, Cowley College’s Endowment Association will partner with Epic Ultras to put on a trail race at Camp Horizon.